To the non beer drinker, there’s only three types of beer in the world. There’s BAD beer. There’s VERY BAD beer. And there’s LESS BAD beer. And so it’s much the same with debt collectors.
This blog is all about the VERY BAD debt collectors. Here I will show you how to background the shady ones along with their company or law firm.
As an example, I will name real names. You will get to see an actual background check on the notorious lawyers of Cooling &Winter. Cooling & Winter is a prime example because it’s been sued 12 times in 2017 alone. And virtually all the lawsuits against them concern bad debt collection practices. So you’re in for a real treat!
When we’re done you’ll be able to expose a debt collector’s lies, ferret out their half truths and expose their prior bad dealings. You can then use this information to negotiate your own settlement!
As a special bonus, I’ll even show you how to blast a crooked debt collector out of business. For believe it or not, you have powerful tools to make unscrupulous debt collectors play by the rules.
This includes enlisting the aid of honest debt collectors, the BBB, the media and even the debt collector’s own licensing board and trade associations. It could also mean getting help from consumer rights advocates and powerful government regulators.
Can I Enlist The Help Of A Plaintiff’s Attorney?
Most plaintiff attorneys won’t dare use these weapons of mass destruction. Because unlike you, they don’t really want to go nuclear. To them, it’s a big game of catch and release. They see the debt collector as a wild animal that should be caught, fined and let go again.
No attorney makes money off of destroying big bad debt collectors. They make money off of suing them and collecting their attorney’s fees. (again and again). So it’s not in their interest for you to blast them out of commission. It’s like asking the farmer to kill the goose that lays all the golden eggs. This is why the media, consumer advocates and government regulators are your best course of action.
3rd Party Debt Collectors Must Play By The Rules (The FDCPA)
When I say play by the rules, I mean that most debt collectors must follow the Fair Debt Collection Practices Act (FDCPA). The FDCPA is the golden rule that applies to all third party collectors. It even applies to collectors that work for the creditor but look like they’re an entirely different company.
If the collector violates these rules in the slightest, they could be sued for $1000, plus, your court costs and even your attorney’s legal fees. (And this doesn’t even include state law claims, which you can file too!) Yes, it’s all built into the Act to encourage attorneys to take your case. Free of charge!
- Spotting The Lies & Half Truths Collectors Say
- How To Show They’re Still Bound By The FDCPA
- Googling The Debt Collector and Their Company
- Checking The State Courts & Complaint Databases
- Checking For Other FDCPA Lawsuits Filed Against Them
- What We Found on Cooling & Winter!
Spotting The Lies & Half Truths Collectors Say
Lie/Half Truth #1
Since We’re Part of The Creditor, We’re Exempt From The FDCPA
Debt collectors love this one. Some of them even believe it. One of the real life exceptions to the FDCPA is that it usually won’t apply to creditors who collect on their own debts. Nor does it usually apply to the creditor’s employees.
For example, if you owe money to Bank Of America, they can collect on the debt with no fear of the FDCPA. The same goes if you receive a call from their accounting department or their in-house lawyers.
But even then, the FDCPA forbids them to collect under another name. OR in a manner which makes them appear to be a third party debt collector. If they do that, they will be stuck under the rigid rules that bind all third party debt collectors. Note that in Cooling & Winter’s case, they sometimes will insist the creditor is not subject to the FDCPA. But the status of the creditor is not the issue. It’s the law firm’s status as a 3rd party debt collector that counts. The FDCPA applies to law firms too!
And this is VERY important. The trend these days is for some collectors to falsely claim they are not a third party. Instead, with forked tongue, they’ll tell you they are somehow an “affiliate” or “employee” of the creditor.
The reason they do this is because if they can skirt the rules they can undercut their law abiding competitors. And by ignoring the law, they can collect their debts cheaper and faster than everyone else.
Honest debt collectors hate when their competitors try these stunts. For unlike the baddies, they’re the ones who get penalized for playing fair.
Lie/Half Truth #2
Since We’re Debt Buyers The FDCPA Won’t Apply To Us
Debt collectors will also try to avoid the Act by claiming they are debt buyers and therefore exempt. In other words, they will tell you that since they own the debt outright, they are now the creditor and can collect on it in any way they choose to.
This is a half truth based on the recent Supreme Court ruling in Henson. What they won’t tell you is that the FDCPA still applies to them when the principal purpose of their business is debt collection. See Henson v. Santander Consumer USA Inc., 137 S. Ct. 1718 (2017). And this is where the background check comes in.
How To Show That They’re Still Bound By The FDCPA
Under current case law there are 4 ways a debt collector can be bound under the Fair Debt Collections Practice Act. Since the collector may try to hide this information from you, it’s up to you to find public records that support your case!
Prove any one of the following and they’re still on the hook:
1. The debt collector is clearly a third party who is collecting the debt on behalf of someone else.
2. While the debt collector claims to be part of the creditor, they have the appearance of being an entirely different company. For example, a debt collector law firm may say they’re part of the creditor but they use a different name, incorporate as a separate entity, have a different website, use a different logo and have different stationary-all of which conveniently fails to list an affiliation with the creditor.
3. While the debt collector may own the debt and say’s they’re merely collecting on it, you have proof that debt collection is the principal purpose of their business or part of their regular activities; For example, their website says they’re debt collectors and all their lawsuits and articles involve debt collection.
4. Even if the debt collector is a debt buyer or part of the creditor, you can show they also act as a third party collector with respect to other debts. For example, they say they’re an “affiliate” of Capital One but you discover they also collect debts for competing banks such as Bank of America or Midland Funding.
A General Background Check To Reveal The Facts Above
Each background check is different. And you never know the juicy facts that can help you until you find them!
So it’s important to do a background check on both the debt collector AND their company. If either one has a checkered past, all the better.
Googling Cooling & Winter
I Googled the law firm of Cooling & Winter with many or all of the terms below:
Cooling & Winter FDCPA
Cooling & Winter Complaint
Cooling & Winter fines
Cooling & Winter sanction
Cooling & Winter Capital One (To see if they are affiliated)
Googling Debt Collector Attorney Quinn M Kasper
I then did likewise with one of their attorneys,
Quinn M Kasper Georgia
Quinn Kasper Georgia attorney
Quinn Kasper Georgia complaints
Martha Quinn McGill (maiden name)
Quinn Kasper “Bank of America” (more connections to creditor? )
Quinn Kasper Cooling Winter
Martha McGill FDCPA (for prior FDCPA violations)
Quinn M Kasper FDCPA
Other words to search for include their name along with
contempt, fined and disciplined.
Googling Specific Newspapers For Stories On Your Collector or Their Big Bank Employers
You’re more likely to get the media to do a story if the collector was already in another story by them. And you can bet the collector’s bank employers will be more apt to drop them if you remind them about their prior bad press with debtors, or how the collector has damaged their rep in the past.
In the case of Cooling & Winter, a Google search revealed sordid facts about their past. It turns out that many of their top lawyers were from the notorious law firm of William J Hanna & Associates. Yes, the very same firm that in 2016 was fined $3.1 million and shut down by the federal government! (See more below)
Sample Google Search For Hanna & Associates in Media Articles
Hanna debt site:ajc.com (collector in Atlanta Constitution)
Hanna debt site:wsj.com (collector in Wall Street Journal)
Hanna debt site:nytimes.com (collector in New York Times)
Sample Google Search For Big Bank & Media Articles
(Getting Headlines to include in Scare Letters To Their Clients)
“Capital One” Hanna debt site:ajc.com (collector & Capital One, AJC)
“Bank of America” FDCPA site:nytimes.com (FDCPA trouble)
“Midland Funding” debtors site:wsj.com (general bad press)
Check The Consumer Finance Protection Bureau’s Complaint Database. The CFPB Complaint Database shows the type of complaints filed by others which the government already knows about. For Example, Cooling & Winter has had 75 complaints since 3/16/16 to the present. This information may be useful when contacting the media, writing scare letters to the big banks, or when negotiating with the collector. It’s also good to remind the government that the collector is still a menace.
Check Local and Federal Courts For Cases They’re Involved In
Search by the last name and maybe 1st name of their attorneys. Also search by their law firm. You’re looking for three things:
1. The names of the companies or banks they represent
The more competing banks they represent, the more obvious they’re a third party debt collector. Also, the cases will show you if there are any big banks involved, i.e. the ones most sensitive to bad press. You’ll want a list of these so you can write them scare letters or get the consumer advocates and reporters to give them a happy phone call.
2. The names of the debtors that are being sued
If the debt collector is telling you lies, there may be other witnesses who can vouch for their bad conduct. Reporters also like talking to a other victims to make their story more sensational.
3. Other lawsuits that show dirt or bad conduct.
Has the law firm, collection agency or its attorneys been sued for malpractice? Are there any suits against them in federal court for violations of the Fair Debt Collections Practices Act? You’re looking for anything juicy and embarrassing they don’t want publicized.
Searching For Cooling & Winter in GA ( Fulton State & Magistrate Court)
In the link above, search for the word Cooling
and set your display to 200 records. You’ll want at least a dozen names and addresses of defendants in debt collector actions during 2017. This will help when you or reporters reach out to other victims.
Do the same with Fulton Superior Court.
Choose All Case Records and enter the CAPTCHA. In the box below this, change Search By: Citation to Attorney. Ignore all fields but the attorney’s name. In this case, the attorney has a rare name so search by the last name of KASPER (nothing else). When you see a list of cases, look for the ones grouped as Contract/Account. For more info on a case, click on the blue links to the far left
USING PACER TO FIND OTHER FDCPA LAWSUITS
Often, a big bad debt collector trounces on the little guy in magistrate court. But later the debtor turns around and sues them for FDCPA violations in federal court. While the debtor often loses the first round, with the help of free plaintiff attorneys they typically win or settle the FDCPA case. At least that’s how it works with Cooling & Winter.
And guess what? You can find all these cases on PACER. PACER is free if you use it wisely. And even if the case has settled already, you get to see what every debtor complained about (before they were paid to keep quiet). This is great because the debtor’s complaint can show if there’s a pattern or practice the government should investigate. For example: a debt collector’s repeated attempts to sue before the debt was confirmed or “validated.”
To search on PACER, log in and then get to find a party by pasting the link below in the Internet address bar at the top:
Or you can go to National Case Locator, click on Pacer Case Locator, and Find Parties. Next, in the field called Last Name or Entity Name, all you need to do is enter in the law firm name without the LLC, LLP etc. For example Cooling & Winter. Click Search and watch the magic!
As of 8/12/18, here are all the Unfair Debt Collection Law Suits Against Cooling & Winter in Federal Court. See PACER which has 30 Lawsuit Against Cooling & Winter with 21 cases based on FDCPA violations, 1 is a FCRA violation
What We found On Cooling & Winter
- Cooling & Winter is the successor to the notorious law firm of Frederick J. Hanna & Associates.
- Hanna is the same firm that in January 2016, was fined $3.1 million and then shut down by the Consumer Finance Protection Bureau. (CFPB)
- The Hanna firm was shut down because it relied on deceptive court filings and faulty evidence to churn out over a hundred thousand debt collection lawsuits in violation of the FDCPA.
- Cooling & Winter was formed just three weeks before the government forced Hanna out of business. (Frederick J Hanna & Associates knew they needed a new name as a shut down was imminent.)
- The new firm is strikingly similar to the old one. In fact, the named partners, Joseph C Cooling & Robert A Winter, belonged to the Hanna firm, and were specifically named in the government suit against Hanna. In addition to having virtually the same partners and many of the same attorneys, the new firm even uses the old firm’s prior phone number. (For National Headlines on Hanna partners Joseph Cooling & Robert Winter, click Here.)
- Like its predecessor, Cooling & Winter has continued in the Hanna legacy. In 2017 alone, they’ve been sued 11 times for violations of the Fair Debt Collection Practices Act. Many of these cases touch on the same practices prohibited by the government Order that shut down their predecessor.
- Cooling & Winter collects for Bank of America, Capital One and a debt buyer called Midland Funding.
- Cooling & Winter lawyers are licensed by the GA Bar and subject to their rules and regulations for ethical misconduct.
- Cooling & Winter is a member of a trade organization called NARCA (The National Creditors Bar Association)
- Cooling & Winter knows it’s subject to the FDCPA. In 2017 alone, They were sued under the FDCPA 11 times. And in every case, they settle within 1-6 months.
What We Found On Quinn M Kasper
Quinn Kasper was no angel either.
- Martha Kasper worked for both Hanna and Cooling & Winter and is therefore bound by the government order on unfair debt collection. She’s also known as Martha Quinn McGill and Quinn McGill Kasper.
- Kasper is a former magistrate judge and files many suits in magistrate court.
- Kasper holds herself out as an expert on the FDCPA and even was about to teach a class on such to NARCA before it was canceled due to a hurricane scare.
- Kasper in spite of her seniority and expertise, still tells debtors she and her firm are not covered under the FDCPA.
- Kasper is a lawyer licensed by the GA Bar and subject to their rules on ethical misconduct & misrepresentation. (Rule 8.4 )
For more see,
Lawyers at Cooling & Winter (For Googling)